The Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) Clinic at Women’s College Hospital (WCH) is Canada’s first Rapid Access Clinic offering a self-referral system for individuals with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, a type of inflammatory arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis affects approximately one-third of individuals with psoriasis. The main symptoms of PsA are joint pain, stiffness and swelling that can affect any part of the body; the severity of these symptoms can range from mild to severe.
“Our clinic offers a new model of care that involves a self-referral option and a triage system to improve access to rheumatology care for patients with psoriasis who might have PsA,” says Dr. Eder, a staff rheumatologist and scientist at Women’s College Research Institute, WCH. “Research shows that seeing a rheumatologist and receiving an early diagnosis can help prevent long-term joint damage and improve patients’ quality of life.”
Patients who come to the PsA Clinic will receive a diagnosis based on information from their medical history, physical examination, blood tests and imaging. In addition, musculoskeletal ultrasound assessment of their joints is performed in the clinic to check for joint inflammation.
“Up to 35 percent of the psoriasis patients may have psoriatic arthritis that has not been diagnosed,” says Dr. Eder. “If left untreated, PsA can lead to irreversible joint damage that can negatively impact individuals’ activity levels.”
Patients visiting the clinic receive treatment from a multidisciplinary team of specialists including two rheumatologists, a dermatologist and an advanced practice physiotherapist. Treatment of PsA focuses on controlling the symptoms and preventing damage to the joints to reduce further complications.
In addition to providing patient care, the clinic team is also conducting a study to investigate the causes of PsA such as environmental exposures and genetic mutations to help identify populations that are at a higher risk of developing the disease.
The PsA Clinic at WCH operates on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Individuals who suspect they might have PsA can self-refer to the clinic by filling out an electronic form to request an appointment.
For more information, please visit the PsA Clinic website at www.womenscollegehospital.ca/psa.